Activists Demand Taxpayer-Funded Immigration Applications

Press Releases

September 10, 2020

IRLI shows Congress intended fees to cover agency expenses

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a California federal district court in a case in which anti-borders activists are suing federal agencies over recent hikes in the fees aliens must pay to apply for immigration benefits. The previous, very-low level of these fees was a major contributor to the choking backlogs in processing immigration benefits applications.

The plaintiffs claim that the fee increase is meant to deter aliens from applying for benefits such as asylum. In its brief, however, IRLI shows that Congress mandated that agencies adjudicating immigration claims support their operations with user fees. IRLI also shows that any deterrence from the fee increase is unintentional, and falls on those with frivolous claims who would pay lower (but not higher) fees just to stay in the country until their applications are denied.    

“For more than forty years the law has been that the full cost of processing all applications for immigration benefits, including the full costs of operating immigration courts to adjudicate applications from aliens seeking to block or appeal their deportation, is to be funded by user fees—not taxpayer subsidies,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “In fact, the fee increases the plaintiffs challenge do not even meet Congress’s requirement that the fees reimburse the agencies’ costs, and the new regulation contains provisions for exemptions and waivers for aliens who cannot afford the fees. This meritless lawsuit merely reflects a mindset among activist attorneys that the lax way the immigration system has been run in the past few decades is written in stone, when in fact it was always contrary to law. We applaud the Trump administration for this move in the direction of compliance with the law, and hope the court will uphold it as just that.”

The case is Immigrant Legal Resource Center v. Wolf, No. 4:20-cv-05883 (N.D. Cal.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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